This was one of those weekends.
One of those weekends of getting up at the crack of dawn to kick ass. One of those weekends to hang out with all the cool kids at Starbucks in a godforsaken place at six in the morning. One of those weekends of scrambling for edible burritos and using Starbucks as a grocery store.
Ok, I’m just going to give up on the pretentious shit right here because it really isn’t working, now is it? As soon as you admit to using Starbucks as a grocery store you have revealed yourself as a silly 20-something (ha! at least for a few days more!) with a cushy job and decent hotels for a bike racing weekend where you get your ass kicked by people who actually know what they’re doing while spending way less money doing so, and while you may feel that your weekend was epic, you’re really just an office rat on a little field trip.
Anyway. It’s not like we had anything better to do for the weekend, so Mark and I packed ourselves into the Surfmobile on Friday night while Tina and Kaya packed themselves into the more adult style, nameless blue Subaru. Now, the Surfmobile is the perfect car. It has a rack that holds 4 bikes. It has enough space for packing for four people. It has enough space for four people! It has an iPod outlet that goes through the tape machine. It says BRUMMMMMMMMbrumbrumcoughcough and it runs perfectly. Perfectly for a 17-year-old car, that is. According to the auto shop. Mark has the philosophy that the car should be shitty, the bikes should be cherished. I approve!
The Surfmobile took us from a leisurely Thai dinner in Mountain View (a.k.a. where I work) to King City surprisingly fast. We got there at pretty much the same time as Tina and Kaya, had time to clean and tune our bikes, and still go to bed early. Tina and Kaya were on a slacker schedule so Mark and I got up first and headed off for San Ardo. Well, via Starbucks of course. You can tell that I’m new to this bike racing thing though, because I was a bit surprised that Mark made coffee in the hotel room at 5:45 – weren’t we going to Starbucks a block away? Oh yes we were, but he needed pre-coffee coffee. Ok. Fine. I’m still learning!
Starbucks in King City was the place to be at 6 am, Saturday morning. I ran into several people I know and it was teeming with these critters called bike racers in general. Yeah bike racing!
We went on to San Ardo – a fairly uneventful drive featuring Rage Against the Machine and Mark mumbling “that’s the only time you’ll pass me today…” to other cars with bike racks passed the Surfmobile on the freeway. Shortly before our arrival I got a text from Tina – “I got your helmet”. What…? I initially brought my helmet in to the hotel room the previous night, and Tina pointed out that I didn’t really need it in the room. Good point, so I brought it back to the Surfmobile. In the morning, Mark pointed to a helmet and said “Is that yours?”, to which I obviously responded no, since I’d left it in the car. Turns out Mark had brought it in, without telling me. And didn’t really think about this at 5:45 in the morning, and thus my helmet stayed in the hotel room.
But that’s ok because this just helped me have an even more relaxed pre-race routine. Basically I just walk around wearing pants, eating sandwiches, and talking crap with everyone I know and then some before my races, while everyone else is busy not eating and warming up. This is my run-around-like-a-chicken-with-its-head-cut-off routine. I usually employ this so I won’t start my warmup too early, but usually it has the result of me missing my warmup completely. This time I could add to the mix an ever more relaxed air by responding “I don’t know” whenever anyone asked me when my race started. This was since it turned out I had the option of changing my 8:45 cat 3 race to the 8:30 1/2/3 race, but who knew if my helmet would arrive on time? I sure didn’t. I’m just hoping this relaxed pre-race routine of mine will intimidate people enough to lead me to a win eventually – I think it’s more likely to happen this way than through actual strength and skills!
Turns out my helmet did arrive on time, and thus it was time to HTFU. I changed my registration to the 1/2/3 race, and thus my first road race with the 1/2s. Of course, HTFU is relative. It was a flat race and the distance was the same for both options. I would suck either way, so I may as well suck with the 1/2s, right? And race with my teammate Ryan Hostetter! Yeah! She’s awesome, because she’s, like, actually thinking during races. And thus I can theoretically learn from her. If I listen. Which I did some of the time. Most of the race basically went like this: ride ride ride, things are fine, flats, going well, flats, whatever, it’s flat, ride, ride, does anyone know any good jokes, ride, ride. Fast forward to the end of the race: I guess I listened when she said I should gun it and TT for the last few hundred meters. I did that! She didn’t really specify whether it should be ahead or behind the pack… But, uh, I guess it was the latter.
So I got DFL. Or, looking at the bright side, I got first out of the cat 3s! Oh, I guess that should be singular. I got first out of… the cat 3! YEAH!
And on we went to Santa Cruz via burritos, minus Tina, who went home to go do some track thing or other instead. Saturday evening was fairly uneventful as appropriate during a bike racing weekend – nap, coffee, food, HOT TUB! (ok, that was a highlight), sleep.
After a solid 9 hours of sleep we got up on time for Mark’s race. Well, I did, at least. Mark and Kaya had already been awake for quite some time but that’s not my problem. Expect for at the point where Mark tried to make coffee in the hotel room I guess, upon which I asked him to go back to snoring instead. He failed at making coffee anyway and I went back to sleep. Then Mark stopped by Starbucks on the way to the university (and University Road Race, if that hadn’t been apparent until now!) so I could get a grocery bag with Almost Real Food. I never go to Starbucks outside of bike races, but during bike racing weekends… it’s awesome. They have great yogurt with granola and berries, bagels, bananas, croissants… they’re all edible. Yay edible!
Since my race didn’t start until two hours after Mark’s I spent a lot of time running around the parking lot being worried about food. Yeah, I’m hungry like that. Teammate Rae and I spun around for a bit too, talking strategy. The race goes like this: UP UP UP UP UP down down down down down UP UP UP UP UP down down down down down. Basically it’s just vo2max intervals for 14 laps and all you can do is to hang on for dear life while other people get shed. That seemed simple enough, although I had to ask for clarification on the finish: with our superior strategy, clearly it would be me and Rae left at the end, so then what would we do? “We’ll sprint it out”, she said. I had to concede to that even though I felt a bit cheated, given how badly I sprint.
But then she went and changed her mind on me just before the race. “I have a new plan! Scratch the first one! Let’s just do all the stupid shit we can, and then we’ll write awesome race reports!” Sounds good to me! Except I might be out of quota on race reports…? I think I’ve written like half of the ones on our team site in the last couple of months. Also, what kind of stupid shit can I possibly do in a race like this…? I was just wondering for what fraction of the first lap I’d be able to hang on. And then I’d do the remaining 13.something on my own – how can that become good race report fodder?
Oh well. RACE! It started great, I hung on for the initial ascent. Then we got to the descent, where I also hung on (well, I better, don’t I?). Then I hung on again, and it was all going pretty well for three whole laps! On an attack I was dropped, but I’d hung on for longer than I had expected and we’d already shed some people before the attacking commenced while I hung on. I rode around the rest of the course mostly solo while alternately heckling/cheering on the men’s 4/5 race that was going on simultaneously to ours. I also managed to be subjected to a matchmaking attempt at some point — that never happened in the cat 4 races! The best I ever heard there was when someone told us about her pirate boyfriend during Berkeley Hills, but then it turned out that we misheard and he was actually a pilot, and the whole pack was disappointed.
Anyway, back to racing — I rode around for a whole bunch of laps, got lapped a few people, then I was told I had one lap to go. Sweet! I had found a sekrit trick! Instead of doing 14 laps, I only had to do 13, since I was lapped! So I kept going and as I rode up the hill the last time, I saw Rae approaching from behind. She’d said we’d battle it out in a sprint, right? So I sped up and crossed the finish line well before her! Never mind that she was a lap up on me, I don’t think that mattered at this point.
End result? 7th from last! That’s good enough for me!
Oh, I forgot to check what that was from the front, so I didn’t see that until today when the results came up online. 16th. Good enough for me!
I don’t know what sick mind thought up this course, but I can’t wait until next year!
362 days to go.
I think I have a crush on University Road Race.